Page 1


Study Guide Contents 3.) Production Information 4.) Introduction 5.) Letter from the Education Director 6.)

Meet the Author

7.) Characters 8.) Synopsis 9.) Hansberry Vs. Lee 10.) Themes 11.) On Stage and Screen 12.) Elements of Teaching Theatre 14.) Questions 15.) Sources & References

2

|

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

Interim Director of Education Kate Laissle (315) 442-7755

Group Sales & Student Matinees Tracey White (315) 443-9844

Box Office (315) 443-3275


Robert Hupp Artistic Director Jill A. Anderson Managing Director Kyle Bass Associate Artistic Director Robert Hupp

Jill A. Anderson

Kyle Bass

Artistic Director

Managing Director

Associate Artistic Director

I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H I N D I A N A R E P E R T O R Y T H E AT R E

SPONSORS

Janet Allen

Suzanne Sweeney

Executive Artistic Director

Managing Director

PRESENTS

George Bain Gail Hamner & Daniel Bingham Suzanne & Kevin McAuliffe

BY MEDIA SPONSORS

Lorraine Hansberry DIRECTED BY

Timothy Douglas OPENING NIGHT CHAMPAGNE TOAST SPONSOR

SCENIC DESIGNER

COSTUME DESIGNER

LIGHTING DESIGNER

COMPOSER

Tony Cisek

Kara Harmon

Peter Maradudin

Michael Keck

D R A M AT U R G

PRODUCTION S TA G E M A N A G E R

CASTING

Richard J Roberts

Stuart Plymesser*

Harriet Bass Casting

SEASON SPONSORS

A Raisin in the Sun is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. February 21 - March 11, 2018

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

| 3


Welcome!

A few reminders...

audience etiquette BE PROMPT Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. Have them visit the restrooms before the show begins. RESPECT OTHERS Please remind your students that their behavior and responses affect the quality of the performance and the enjoyment of the production for the entire audience. Live theatre means the actors and the audience are in the same room, and just as the audience can see and hear the performers, the performers can see and hear the audience. Please ask your students to avoid disturbing those around them. Please no talking or unnecessary or disruptive movement during the performance. Also, please remind students that cellphones should be switched off completely. No texting or tweeting, please. When students give their full attention to the action on the stage, they will be rewarded with the best performance possible.

4

|

As you take your students on the exciting journey into the world of live theatre we hope that you’ll take a moment to help prepare them to make the most of their experience. Unlike movies or television, live theatre offers the thrill of unpredictability.

GOOD NOISE, BAD NOISE Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, cell phones, etc).

With the actors present on stage, the audience response becomes an integral part of the performance and the overall experience: the more involved and attentive the audience, the better the show. Please remind your students that they play an important part in the success of the performance.

STAY WITH US Please do not leave or allow students to leave during the performance except in absolute emergencies. Again, reminding them to use the restrooms before the performance will help eliminate unnecessary disruption.

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION


Dear Educator, Live theatre is a place for people to gather and experience the joys, triumphs, and sorrows life has to offer. The Syracuse Stage education department is committed to providing the tools to make learning in and through the arts possible to address varied learning styles and to make connections to curricula and life itself. It is our goal in the education department to maximize the theatre experience for our education partners with experiential learning and indepth arts programming. Thank you for your interest and support. Sincerely,

Kate Laissle Interim Director of Educational

2017/2018 EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH SPONSORS Syracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 15,500 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, Word to the World, Backstory, Young Adult Council, and our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our comunity.

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

| 5


meet the playwright Lorraine Hansberry, the youngest of four children was born in 1930 to Carl and Nanny Hansberry, who instilled in their children a deep sense of pride in their racial identity. At the time, laws required hospitals to list the race of newborn babies on birth certificates. Lorraine Hansberry’s read “Negro,” but her parents crossed out the word and wrote “Black.” As an adult, Hansberry commented that, “both of [her] parents were strongminded, civic minded, exceptionally race-minded people who made enormous sacrifices on behalf of the struggle for civil rights throughout their lifetimes.”

the right to own.

After finishing high school in Chicago, Hansberry broke with family tradition of attending historically black universities and began studying art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After seeing a performance of Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, Hansberry’s eyes were opened to the power of the theater. She left the university after two years to pursue a career in writing. Moving to New York, Hansberry joined the staff of Paul Robeson’s independent radical black magazine, Freedom. There she met songwriter Robert Nemiroff on a picket Hansberry witnessed the poverty of her community line protesting discrimination at New York University. during the Great Depression, but grew up in relative They married in 1953. economic stability. Living in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, by the standards of In 1956, Lorraine Hansberry quit her job at Freedom most black residents of Chicago, the Hansberrys were to concentrate on her own writing. She took part-time wealthy. Her father was a successful real estate broker jobs as a waitress and a cashier, but spent most of her and her mother was a teacher. Never comfortable with time writing sketches for a novel. Soon, however, her ather “rich girl” status, Lorraine identified with her poor- tention turned to theater, and she stopped working to er classmates, many of whom, like the Youngers in A Rai- concentrate on a play, The Crystal Stair, later renamed A sin in the Sun, lived in cramped south side apartments Raisin in the Sun after a line from the Langston Hughes like those her father managed. poem, “Harlem.” A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway on March 11, 1959 to critical acclaim and ran for When Hansberry was eight years old, her parents 530 performances. A film adaptation in 1951 starred bought a house in Washington Park, an all-white neigh- Sydney Poitier and most of the original Broadway cast. borhood bordering on Woodlawn. While her father fought a legal battle against a racially restrictive cov- After the success of A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry conenant which attempted to prohibit African American tinued writing and working in social activism. She amicafamilies from buying homes in the neighborhood, Hans- bly separated from Nemiroff, with whom she remained berry experienced what she would later call a “hellishly very close, and moved to a country house in the upstate hostile” environment in her new neighborhood and her community of Croton-on-Hudson. She fell ill while writmostly white public school. ing her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, based the radicals and dreamers Greenwich Village A brick, hurled through a window by angry white mem- where she and her husband had lived. By the time rebers of the neighborhood, nearly killed the eight-year- hearsals began, she had been diagnosed with pancreatic old Lorraine. Many times her mother would stand at cancer. The new play opened to poor reviews. She died the front of her house with a loaded gun to protect her on the final night of the Broadway run, January 12, 1965. family from racist attacks. Hansberry’s father won his She was thirty-four years old. legal battle, taking the case, Hansberry v. Lee, all the way to the Supreme Court. Hansberry spent her middle and When A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959, high school years in the house her parents fought for Lorraine Hansberry became the first African-American

6

|

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

female playwright to have a play on the Great White Way. At twenty-nine, she was the youngest American playwright to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play. A Raisin in the Sun transformed American theater by sharing for the first time on the Broadway stage, the story of an ordinary black family. After her death, ex-husband Robert Nemiroff collected and edited her journal entries, sketches, letters, and interviews into a third play by Lorraine Hansberry, called To be Young, Gifted, and Black. The impressionistically autographical play ran off-Broadway in1968 and was adapted into a best-selling book. —adapted from material provided by Milwaukee Repertory Theatre


Characters Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee in A Raisin in the Sun/ Photo © Columbia Pictures

Walter Lee Younger, thirty-five, a chauffeur. He has dreams of becoming independent by opening a liquor store. Ruth Younger, Walter’s wife of eleven years. She is about thirty and works as a domestic. Lena Younger, Walter’s mother Beneatha Younger, Walter’s sister. She’s a 2o year old college student who wants to become a doctor

Travis Younger, the 10 yer old son of Walter and Ruth George Murchison, one of Beneatha’s suitors. He’s rich. Joseph Asagai, a Nigerian friend of Beneatha’s, also a student. Karl Lindner, a representative of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association Bobo, a friend of Walter’s SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

| 7


SYNOPSIS On the South Side of Chicago in the late 1950s, three generations of the Younger family lives in an apartment too small for five people. Matriarch Lena shares a room with her daughter, Beneatha. Son Walter Lee and his wife Ruth are in the other bedroom.Their son Travis sleeps on the couch. Ruth is pregnant, but has not yet told her husband Walter as she contemplates an abortion.The family is awaiting the $10,000 life insurance settlement from the father’s recent death. Walter Lee wants to use the money to buy a liquor store with two friends as partners. However, Mama Lena, who is the beneficiary, places a deposit on a new home in the adjacent white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. She plans to use another portion of the money for Beneatha’s tuition. Walter, telling his mother she’s “butchered his dream,” convinces her to give him the check, with the promise that he will pay the tuition bill.When Karl Lindner, a representative of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association offers to buy the Youngers’ new home at a sizable profit to stop them from moving into their all white neighborhood, they refuse his offer. Then Walter gets bad news. His friend Willy, who was to be a partner in the liquor store, has run off with his money.

What did $10,000 mean in 1959? In buying power, that figure is worth $85, 302 in today’s dollars. first edition publication

8

|

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION


Hansberry vs. Lee

For A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry drew inspiration from her own childhood growing up on Chicago’s south side and moving into an entirely white neighborhood at a young age. At the time, many neighborhoods had racially restrictive covenants, agreements written into property deed binding the owners to not sell or rent their property to specific minority groups. Hansberry’s father, a realtor active in the NAACP, bought a house in all white neighborhood to challenge the covenant, which stated, “No part of the said premises shall in any manner be used or occupied directly by a negro or negroes.” The covenant did specify that African-Americans could be chauffeurs or house servants, as long as they did not own the house.When the Hansberrys moved in, the Kenwood improvement association filed a mandatory injunction for the family to vacate the property.With the support of the NAACP, Hansberry challenged the injunction and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Hansberry vs. Lee, a landmark decision in 1940, ruled that the covenant could not represent the views of all the members of the neighborhood since only 54% of the neighbor-

hood landowners support the restrictive covenant. Since the court rejected the specific covenant impacting the Hansberry family, Carl Hansberry’s lawyers won the case. However, they did not achieve a ruling on the constitutionality of restrictive residential covenants. It would be eight years beefier the Supreme Court would rule racially restrictive covenants a violation of the fourteenth amendment in Shelley vs Kraemer, in which an African-American couple argued their right to purchase a home in a resorted all white neighborhood in St. Louis. —courtesy of Milwaukee Repertory Theatre

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

| 9


Themes

A Dream Deferred The title of Lorraine Hansberry’s play is a line from a poem by Harlem Renaissance giant Langston Hughes. Originally, however, the play was called The Crystal Stair, after a line in another Hughes poem, “Mother to Son,” which opens with:

Well, son, I’ll tell you: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

With Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem,” or “A Dream Deferred,” as the preface to A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry explores the consequences of generations of African-American parents, children and individuals unable a chase their dreams because of discrimination, racism, and lack of equal opportunity. In A Raisin in the Sun, every member of the Younger family strives for a better life and each one has a different dream of how to get there.

Feminism

Afrocentrism

From Beneatha’s radical decision to become a doctor to Ruth’s open consideration of an abortion, A Raisin in the Sun puts women issues onstage in ways not seen before. Writing as an African-American woman, a perspective not yet heard on the Broadway stage, Lorraine Hansberry gave voice to the different generational perspectives and ideas of three different African-American women.

Afrocentrism challenges the standard of seeing everything through the lease of Western European culture rather than Africa-centered thinking. Afrocentrism asks the question: what would African people do if there were no white people?” Molefi Kete Asante, the author who first put the concept of Afrocentrism into writing, explains that people see history relative to themselves in terms of centers and margins, and the distance between the two. When thinking Afrocentrically, black people begin to see themselves at the center of their own history, rather than at the margins of Europe. The Afrocentrist movement in America took off in the 1960’s, a time when America experienced immense social and political change.Youths, intellectuals and scholars began to recognize and appreciate the African roots of African Americans, forming a “black perspective” from which to view the world. In A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha begins to see the world from an African perspective, learning from her Nigerian friend, Asagai.

10

|

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION


A Raisin in the Sun on Stage and Screen 1959 The original production of A Raisin in the Sun starred Sidney Poitier, the only black movie star of the era. It was directed by Lloyd Richards, who would later shepherd plays by August Wilson. It opened to great acclaim and ran for 530 performances. It was nominated for four Tony Awards. 1961 The film version, for which Lorraine Hansberry wrote the screenplay, slightly softens the social message, but still packs a wallop. The original Broadway cast recreated their roles.

2008 ABC airs a film version of the 2004 production. 2010 Clybourne Park, a play by Bruce Norris, wins the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony for best play. It takes place in the home the Youngers are about to move into at the end of A Raisin in the Sun. The first act takes place as the neighbors realize a black family is moving in. Act two is contemporary, as the home, now in a minority neighborhood, is a target for white gentrification.

1973 Raisin, a musical, was co-written by Robert Nemiroff, Hansberry’s ex-husband. Nominated for nine Tonys, it won for Best Musical and Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Capers as Lena). It ran for 847 performances.

2013 A new play, Beneatha’s Place, by Kwame Kwei-Armah runs in Repertory with Clybourne Park and A Raisin in the Sun at the Baltimore Center Stage as part of The Raisin Cycle. This play imagines Beneath married to Asagai and returning to Nigeria in the tumultuous last days of colonialism.

1989 PBS American Playhouse produced a television version starring Danny Glover, based on an off-Broadway production by the Roundabout Theatre.

2014 Denzel Washington leads a Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun with Sophie Okonedo as Ruth and Anika Noni Rose as Beneatha.

2004 On Broadway, hip-hop star Sean “Puffy” Combs starred as Walter Lee, Audra McDonald as Ruth, and Phylicia Rashad as Lena. McDonald and Rashad won Tonys for their work.

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

| 11


elements of drama PLOT

What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What do the characters want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/lose? THEME

What ideas are wrestled with in the play? What questions does the play pose? Does it present an opinion? CHARACTER

Who are the people in the story? What are their relationships? Why do they do what they do? How does age/status/etc. affect them? LANGUAGE

What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do they say it? MUSIC

How do music and sound help to tell the story? SPECTACLE

How do the elements come together to create the whole performance?

Other Elements: Conflict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-verbal communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern & Repetition, Emotion, Point of view.

12

|

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore this production with your students, examine the use of:

WRITING VISUAL ART/DESIGN MUSIC/SOUND DANCE/MOVEMENT

activity

At its core, drama is about characters working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact with others. Give them an objective to fulfill despite environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles affected their characters and the pursuit of their objectives.

INQUIRY

How are each of these art forms used in this production? Why are they used? How do they help to tell the story?


elements of design LINE can have length, width, texture, direction, and

curve. There are five basic varieties: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag.

SHAPE is two-dimensional and encloses space.

It can be geometric (e.g. squares and circles), man-made, or free-form.

FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses space

and fills space. It can be geometric (e.g. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form.

COLOR has three basic properties:

HUE is the name of the color (e.g. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.

TEXTURE refers to the “feel” of an

object’s surface. It can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique).

SPACE is defined and determined

by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

| 13


Beneatha wants be a doctor first and says she might later get married. What do Mama’s and Ruth’s reaction to this information suggest about different generational views on women? Hansberry includes the subject of abortion as a main thread through her play. What makes Ruth consider an abortion? What do the discussions about Ruth’s pregnancy illuminate about women’s roles at the time of the play? At one point, Waller Lee tells his sister to, “Shut up and get married.” What different perspectives do the men in A Raisin in her Sun have on the role of women? What do Walter Lee, Asagai, and George’s thoughts on Beneatha have in common? What does the original title say about the play? What does the shift in title signal about the theme of the play? How does the dream of a better life manifest itself in each member of the Younger family? How do Walter Senior’s dreams for his family affect the ways in which each member of his family views his or her own dreams after his death? The impending arrival of $10,000 of life insurance money changes many of the characters’ perspectives on their future. How do the members of the Younger family feel about the money? Do they all believe it will help them better achieve their dreams? Asagai tells Beneatha that she “mutilates” her hair, arguing it should be worn naturally. Is Beneatha’s decision to wear her hair naturally an act of revolution against what she calls the “oppressive culture”? How do different members of the Younger family approach these new ideas from Africa? What does this suggest about the generational shift in celebrating one’s African heritage? What perspective on the Younger family’s struggles does Asagai bring with his stories of poverty and colonialism in Africa?

14

|

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

—adapted from material provided by Milwaukee Repertory Theatre


Sources and Resources: A Raisin in the Sun study guide prepared by Milwaukee Repertory Theatre https://issuu.com/milwaukeerep/docs/raisin_studyguide Tillet, Salamishah, “For Lorraine Hansberry, ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Was Just the Start,” New York Times, 12 January, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/arts/television/lorraine-hansberry-sighted-eyes-feeling-heart.html?rref=collection%2F sectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&content Placement=7&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

Electronic Media A Raisin in the Sun Revisited, PBS Learning Media. A fine classroom look at the play and Hansberry’s life and times. https://whut.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/b1833182-0d42-4deb-9888-0ece5cc96e20/a-raisin-in-the-sun-revisited-introduction/#.WmlZgiPMw_V Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, a film by Tracy Heather Strain, American Masters. An in-depth look at the creator of A Raisin in the Sun. It examines her creative process, the social background of the play, her role in the struggle for racial equality, and her evolving sexual identity. http://www.pbs.org/video/lorraine-hansberry-sighted-eyesfeeling-heart-8uehel/

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

| 15


THE THREE MUSKETEERS ADAPTED FROM THE NOVEL BY ALEXANDRE DUMAS | BY CATHERINE BUSH | DIRECTED BY ROBERT HUPP CO-PRODUCED WITH THE SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF DRAMA

NEXT TO NORMAL MUSIC BY TOM KITT | BOOK AND LYRICS BY BRIAN YORKEY | DIRECTED BY ROBERT HUPP | CHOREOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY SALATINO | MUSICAL DIRECTION BY BRIAN CIMMET

JANUARY 24 - FEBRUARY 11

SEPTEMBER 20 – OCTOBER 8

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME BY SIMON STEPHENS | ADAPTED FROM THE NOVEL BY MARK HADDON DIRECTED BY RISA BRAININ CO-PRODUCED WITH INDIANA REPERTORY THEATRE

OCTOBER 25 – NOVEMBER 12

THE WIZARD OF OZ BY L. FRANK BAUM | WITH MUSIC AND LYRICS FROM THE MGM MOTION PICTURE SCORE BY HAROLD ARLEN AND E. Y. HARBURG WITH BACKGROUND MUSIC BY HERBERT STOTHART | BOOK ADAPTATION BY JOHN KANE FROM THE MOTION PICTURE SCREENPLAY | DIRECTED BY DONNA DRAKE CHOREOGRAPHY BY 2 RING CIRCUS MUSICAL DIRECTION BY BRIAN CIMMET CO-PRODUCED WITH THE SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF DRAMA

A RAISIN IN THE SUN BY LORRAINE HANSBERRY | DIRECTED BY TIMOTHY DOUGLAS | CO-PRODUCED WITH INDIANA REPERTORY THEATRE

FEBRUARY 21 – MARCH 11

NEW FOR 17/18

COLD READ: A FESTIVAL OF HOT NEW PLAYS APRIL 5 - 8

THE MAGIC PLAY BY ANDREW HINDERAKER | DIRECTED BY HALENA KAYS | CO-PRODUCED WITH THE ACTORS THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE & PORTLAND CENTER STAGE

APRIL 25 – MAY 13

NOVEMBER 29 – JANUARY 7

315.443.3275 SYRACUSESTAGE.ORG 16

|

EDUCATION

SYRACUSE STAGE EDUCATION

SEASON SPONSORS

STUDY GUIDE

A Raisin in the Sun Study Guide  
A Raisin in the Sun Study Guide